The Lessons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

IS 101 04   Winter 2008


IS 101 is a first-year course which develops students’ critical inquiry and communication skills as they take responsibility for their education and actions within the context of becoming a Wartburg liberally educated person (1 cc, writing intensive, prerequisite EN 111, must be completed during the first year).


Instructor:                  Dr. Erika Lindgren      

Phone:             352-8201                                 314 Luther

Office hours:              T 8:30-9:30, W 2:30-3:30, F 9:10-10:10 and by appointment


Course Purpose/Description

IS 101:  Asking Questions, Making Choices is the first course in the Wartburg Plan of Essential Education.  It has been designed as an introductory level course which looks at content with the point of modeling how educated people formulate and respond to questions and choices of personal and social importance.  IS 101 is designed as a pre-disciplinary course which foregrounds broad processes of inquiry in the context of specific course content and experiences.  When students have successfully completed this course, they will have demonstrated that they have begun a lifelong journey through an educational process, a process which will help them ask (and perhaps answer) significant questions and make ethical and appropriate choices.


Half of the course is “common content”.   That is, all sections will consider and respond to the same materials and experiences designed by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members.  The other half of the course has been designed by individual faculty members and this half of each section will be unique.  This structure provides first-year students with common experiences which draw them together and also exploratory and highly individual experiences that may serve as models for personal explorations of their own.  The individual theme of this section is “The Lessons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer”- the witty and often irreverent television show which ran from 1997 to 2003.  We will use the show as a text that we will read/view to think critically about issues related to the common content of this course, and to lead us into discussion of other topics such as sexuality, relationships, feminism, Good and Evil, death, gender roles, and vampires.  This is a series that can be examined in this way because it was written not just as entertainment, or to turn a tired cliché on its head, but to also hold deeper meanings and possibilities.  As creator Joss Whedon has commented, “’Buffy’ is made by a bunch of writers who think very, very hard about what they are doing in terms of psychology and methodology.  We take the show very seriously.  We are perhaps the most pompous geeks of them all.  When somebody says there is a philosophy behind ‘Buffy’ that is the truth.  When they say there is symbolism and meaning in what we’re doing, that’s true too.”[1]  Whedon also expected his audience to read his series, often referring to what he called “the [Bring Your Own] subtext principle.”[2]  This readability has generated academic interest in the show, creating the field of Buffy Studies, several scholarly conferences, and an academic journal.


Course Goals and Outcomes

Both the common and individual class content is consistent with the following goals and outcomes.

Goal 1  Students will understand the primary characteristics of a liberally educated person.

•Students will articulate and describe the primary characteristics of a liberally educated person.


Goal 2  Students will become critical inquirers.

•Students will be able to identify and explain-

            the thesis of a text

            the author’s position

            the assumptions, strengths, and limitations in a text

•Students will develop information literacy by-

            designing and performing search strategies

            gathering and using appropriate information and materials for projects and assignments

            effectively evaluating the quality of information sources

•Students will assess their tolerance for ambiguity and reflect on the implications for their engagement in critical inquiry


Goal 3  Students will become more effective communicators.

•Students will demonstrate effective communication through-

            civil discourse

            small group interactions

            various kinds of writing/composition


Goal 4  Students will become responsible for their education and actions.

•Students will be able to demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors of active learners

•Students will develop an appreciation for and a commitment to continued engagement with the world beyond the classroom.

•Students will develop and utilize strategies for making successful adjustments to college life.

•Students will explore connections among their interests, aptitudes, and educational goals.


Required Text/Materials

•Common content: 


Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea


Wartburg College IS 101 Development, Instructional, and Revisions Teams (2001-2006).  IS 101 Reader: Asking Questions, Making Choices. Acton, MA:  Copley Custom Publishers (2006).   Referred to as IS.


۰Individualized materials: 

Required Texts:


Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery, ed., Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.  Refered to as FF.


Glenn Yeffeth, ed., Seven Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dallas: BenBella Books, 2003.  Referred to as 7.


            Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies at http//

Recommended Texts:

Anne Billson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Critical Reading of the Series, London: British Film Institute, 2005



This course is graded A-F with common content material accounting for roughly 50% of the grade and the individualized content comprising the remaining 50% (see Writing Intensive requirements below).  Your final letter grade for this course will be based on evaluations of process skills (discussion, collaborative work, participation) as well as products (written assignments, projects, and evidence of process work). In this section there is a 1000 point system that breaks down into letter grades as follows: 950-1000 = A, 900-949 = A-, 870-899 = B+, 830-869 = B, 800-829 = B-, and the “B” pattern continues for the rest of the grades.


Graded Assignments


Liberal Learner paper  A 3 page draft of this paper is due on February 1 and after conferencing with the professor, you will revise the draft into a 6 page paper is due on February 15.


Three Cups of Tea paper- this 2 page paper will ask you to answer a specific question about Three Cups of Tea. Due March 19.


Buffy paper- This 5 page paper will allow you to explore any issue related to the television series and relate it to the ‘real world.’  You will be expected to view extra episodes for material for your paper and use information generated by our ILAC session.  Paper is due March 28.


Final Project- This project has 4 parts.  Part 1 is a project proposal of about 3 pages, due March 17.  Part 2 is a Reflection of about 3 pages on the project turned in when you do Part 3, the presentation.  Part 4 is the final reflection, written after viewing all the presentations.  All 4 parts are equally weighted.   More information forthcoming.


Episode viewing log-  Each student will keep a small notebook in which they will record notes about the episodes they view.  See handout about specific contents and rubric.  Instructor can ask to see your logbook at any time.


In-class participation and daily assignments- This class is all about communication, so you must participate by asking and answering questions, taking part in small group and all-class discussions, pulling your own weight in group projects, and general class activities.  Any short writing assignments or in class writing assignments will contribute towards this grade. 


Out of class participation- Each student will attend 5 events over the course of the semester and write a typed half page to page long paragraph about the event, how it contributed to their education and what they got out of it.  The paragraph must be submitted by the next class meeting after the event.  Students should pick a variety of events [political speeches, academic talks, Artist’s Series, the Opera Workshop, art exhibits, literary readings, musical performances, dramatic performances, sporting events, and others- but not family visits, events or groups you already participate in], and should not submit more than 2 paragraphs about similar events.  Events do NOT have to be on the Wartburg campus. 


Students are expected to also attend the two convocations in the Winter Term and write a half page paragraph about the experience.  These are marked in the syllabus.


Attendance: Attendance is required.  You receive 2 points for every class you attend.  No excused absences.  This is separate from your participation grade.


Late work: Late work will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made with the professor.


Grading Breakdown- out of 1000 possible points


Episode Log Book                                                      91

Liberal Learner paper                                               150

Three Cups of Tea paper                                           50

Buffy paper                                                                 150

Final Project                                                              200 total

Proposal                     50

Project Reflection      50

Presentation               50

Final Reflection        50

In class Participation and daily assignments          225     

Out of class participation                                          50

Convocation Attendance                                           10 [5 points each]

Regular Attendance                                                   74

Writing Intensive

IS 101 is a writing intensive course, which means that you will write at least 20 pages or 5,000 words and at least 40% of the course grade will be based on the writing component of the course included in both the common and individual course content segments.  This writing will take a variety of forms ranging from quick in-class responses to formal academic papers.


Special Needs:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from illegal discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities.  Students requesting instructional accommodations due to disabilities must arrange for such accommodations by contacting Pathways Associate for Testing and Advising Carla Coates.  She can be reached at the Pathways Center, 314 Vogel Library, Wartburg College, Waverly, IA 50677, 352-8230, <>.   Presenting documentation of a student’s disability early (before the beginning of classes) is helpful and often necessary to secure needed materials in a timely way.  Accommodations should be requested PRIOR to affected assignment due dates.  For more detailed information, please see


Honor Code/Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the representation of the work or ideas of others as your own.  Plagiarism can result from failing to cite a source, giving sufficient credit to the original authors, closely paraphrasing without attribution, and direct copying.  The Academic Policies Committee of Student Senate and the Honor Council have asked faculty to remind students that they have a “…responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work”.  All forms of plagiarism and cheating will result in severe academic penalties.


By attending Wartburg College, students are demonstrating their dedication to the Honor Code.  The Honor Code reminds students of their responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work.  This is a reminder of your obligation to the Honor Code (from the policy developed by students and overseen by the Student Senate, the Honor Council, and the Academic Ombudsperson).




Schedule of classes: When texts are listed for a class session, students should arrive having already read and reflected on this material.  Assignments are listed on the dates they are due.


Unless otherwise noted, all episodes are shown in 116 WBC from 7-10 pm on Mondays.  Episodes are required, so if you can not make the showings, watch them off of reserve before the next class.


Week 1       Talking about. . .Opening Credits: Welcome to the Hellmouth/Buffyverse

M 1/7               Introduction: Television as Text


Episodes          “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1.1], “Harvest” [1.2], “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” [1.05], Prophecy Girl” [1.12]


W 1/9              Slayers, Vampires and Scholars

Read: Forward and Introduction [FF] and Brin, ”Buffy vs. the Old-Fashioned ‘Hero’” [7] and Westerfeld, “A Slayer Comes to Town” [7]

Recommended: Billson, chapter 3


F 1/11              Sexy Vamps           “School Hard” [2.03] in class

Read: Krause, “Why Buffy Matters” [7] and DeKelb-Rittenhouse, Sex and the Single Vampire” [FF]


Week 2       Talking about. . .

M 1/14             Language and Chaos               “Halloween” [2.06] in class

Read: Overbey and Preston-Matto, “Staking in Tongues” [FF]

Recommended: Billson, chapter 4


Episodes          “What’s My Line pt. 1” [2.09],“What’s My line pt. 2” [2.10], “Surprise” [2.13], , “Innocence” [2.14]


W 1/16                        The Core of Season 2/ Mission

                        Read: Wartburg College Mission Statement [IS]


F 1/18              Being in College- Plato Redux      

                        Read: Kreeft, “On Education and E.T.” [IS]


Week 3       Talking about. . . .

M 1/21             Liberal Education

                        Read: Giamatti, “The Earthly Use of a Liberal Education” [IS]


Episodes          “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” [2.16], “Passion” [2.17], “Becoming pt. 1” [2.21], “Becoming pt. 2” [2.22]   


W 1/23                        Education for what reason?

Read: Dyson, “Why I Am an Intellectual” [IS] and Edwards, “Slaying in Black and White” [FF]


F 1/25              Education beyond the classroom

                        Read: Spayde, “Learning in the Key of Life” [IS]


Week 4       Talking about. . .

M 1/28             The Educational System

Read: Schwartz, “The Debasing of Education” [IS]

Recommended: Billson, chapter 5


Episodes          “Faith, Hope, and Trick” [3.03], “Band Candy” [3.06], “Lover’s Walk” [3.08], “The Wish” [3.09]  


W 1/30                        Education and Oppression

                        Read: Freire, “The Banking Concept of Education” [IS]          


F 2/1                Stories of Learning  Liberal Learner draft due

Read: Rodriguez, “Lonely Good Company of Books” [IS] and Malcolm X, from “Autobiography of Malcolm X” [IS]


Week 5       Talking about. . .

M 2/4               No Class for Conferences


Episodes          “The Zeppo” [3.13], “Bad Girls” [3.14], “Consequences” [3.15],  “Enemies” [3.17]


T 2/5                Convocation: Renita Weems, Neumann Auditorium


W 2/6              Gendered Education       

Read: Rich, “What Does a Woman Need to Know?”[IS] and Cheever, “Women’s Progress” [IS]


F 2/8                Gender, Race, and Class in the Buffyverse

                        Read: Helford, “My Emotions Give Me Power” [FF]


Week 6       Talking about . . .

M 2/11             Faith and Learning

Read: Townsley, “A College of Which Church” [IS] and Sittler, “The Church and Liberal Learning” [IS]


Episodes          “Earshot” [3.18], “Graduation Day pt. 1” [3.21], “Graduation Day pt. 2” [3.22]


W 2/13                        Faith and Action

Read: King, “A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart” [IS]


F 2/15              Faith and Questioning    Final Draft of Liberal Learner paper due

                        Read: Tennyson, from “In Memoriam A.H.H.” [IS]


Week 7       Talking about. . .

M 2/18             Faith and the Buffyverse

Read: Golden, “Where’s the Religion in Willow’s Wicca?” [7] and Erickson, “Sometimes you need a story” [FF]

Recommended: Billson, chapter 6


Episodes          “The Freshman” [4.1], “The Imitative” [4.07], “Pangs” [4.08], “Something Blue” [4.09]


W 2/20                        Mothering

                        Read: Williams, “Choosing your Own Mother” [FF]


F 2/22              Good and Evil

Read: Resnick, ”The Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent” [7] and Money, “The Undemonization of Supporting Characters in Buffy” [FF]


Week 8       Talking about. . .

M 2/25             ILAC session- meet in Library


Episodes          “Hush” [4.10], “This Year’s Girl” [4.15], “Who Are You?” [4.16], “Superstar” [4.17]


W 2/27                        Sex in the Buffyverse

Read: Kilpatrick, ”Sex and the Single Slayer” [7] and Crusie, ”Dating Death” [7]


F 2/29              Leadership and Service

Read: Westheimer and Kahne, “What kind of citizen?” [IS]


Week 9       Winter Term Break


Week 10     Talking about. . .

M 3/10             Participating in society

Read: Putnam, “Bowling Alone” [IS]

Recommended: Billson, chapter 7


Episodes          “New Moon Rising” [4.19], Primeval” [4.21],  “Restless” [4.22], “Buffy vs. Dracula” [5.1]


W 3/12                        Morality and Community

Read: Etzioni, from “Morality as a Community Affair” [IS]


F 3/14              Three Cups of Tea review


Week 11     Talking about. . .

M 3/17             Presentation on Afghanistan and Pakistan in Neumann Auditorium         Final Project Proposal due


Episodes          “No Place like Home” [5.05], “Fool for Love”  [5.07], “Checkpoint” [5.12], “I was Made to Love You” [5.15]


T 3/18              Convocation: Greg Mortenson, Neumann Auditorium


W 3/19             “The Body” [5.16] in class   Three Cups of Tea paper due


F 3/21              Easter Break     


Week 12     Talking about. . .

M 3/24             Easter Break             


W 3/26             Obsession and Redemption     “Intervention” [5.18] in class

Read: Jeffrey Middents, “A Sweet Vamp: Critiquing the Treatment of Race in Buffy and the American Musical Once More (with Feeling)” Slayage 5.1.

Recommended: Billson, chapter 8


Episodes          “The Gift” [5.22] “After Life” [6.03], “Once More, With Feeling” [6.07], “Tabula Rasa” [6.08],   Episodes are Wednesday in WBC 214 at 7 pm


F 3/28              Death and Music   

Read: Richard S. Albright, “’[B]reakaway pop hit or. . . book number?’: ‘Once More, with Feeling’ and Genre” Slayage 5.1


Week 13     Talking about. . .

M 3/31             More Death  Buffy paper due

Read: Kenyon, “The Search for Spike’s Balls” [7]


Episodes          “Smashed” [6.09], “Wrecked” [6.10], “Dead Things” [6.13], “Seeing Red” [6.19]


W 4/2              Character Study: Spike

Read: Victoria Spah, “’Ain’t Love Grand?” Spike and Courtly Love,” Slayage 2.1 and Lorrah, "Love Saves the World" [7]


F 4/4                Character study: Spike

Read: Cynthea Masson and Marni Stanley, “Queer Eye of that Vampire Guy,” Slayage 6.2


Week 14     Talking about. . . The End

M 4/7               Presentations


Episodes          “End of Days” [7.21], “Chosen” [7.22]


W  4/9             Final Buffy discussion

Read: Holder, “Slayers of the Last Arc” [7]

Recommended: Billson, chapter 9


F 4/11              Presentations


Presentations/ Reflection –Wednesday April 16, 3-5 pm.



The Professor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus and will notify the students if she does so.




Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episode Reference Sheet



Season/Episode          Title                                                      Vogel Disc #


1.01                                    Welcome to the Hellmouth                                             #1

1.02                                    The Harvest                                                                  #1

1.03                                    Witch                                                                           #1

1.04                                    Teacher’s Pet                                                               #1

1.05                                    Never Kill a Boy on the First Date                                 #2

1.06                                    The Pack                                                                      #2

1.07                                    Angel                                                                           #2

1.08                                    I Robot, You Jane                                                         #2

1.09                                    The Puppet Show                                                          #3

1.10                                    Nightmares                                                                   #3

1.11                                    Out of Mind, Out of Sight                                               #3

1.12                                    Prophecy Girl                                                                #3

2.01                                    When She was Bad                                                       #4

2.02                                    Some Assembly Required                                              #4

2.03                                    School Hard                                                                  #4

2.04                                    Inca Mummy Girl                                                          #4

2.05                                    Reptile Boy                                                                   #5

2.06                                    Halloween                                                                    #5

2.07                                    Lie to Me                                                                      #5

2.08                                    The Dark Age                                                               #5

2.09                                    What’s My Line (part 1)                                                #6

2.10                                    What’s My Line (part 2)                                                #6

2.11                                    Ted                                                                              #6

2.12                                    Bad Eggs                                                                      #6

2.13                                    Surprise                                                                        #7

2.14                                    Innocence                                                                     #7

2.15                                    Phases                                                                          #7

2.16                                    Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered                             #7

2.17                                    Passion                                                                         #8

2.18                                    Killed by Death                                                             #8

2.19                                    I Only Have Eyes for You                                             #8

2.20                                    Go Fish                                                                         #8

2.21                                    Becoming (part 1)                                                         #9

2.22                                    Becoming (part 2)                                                         #9

3.01                                    Anne                                                                            #10

3.02                                    Dead Man’s Party                                                         #10

3.03                                    Faith, Hope, and Trick                                                   #10

3.04                                    Beauty and the Beasts                                                   #10

3.05                                    Homecoming                                                                 #11

3.06                                    Band Candy                                                                  #11

3.07                                    Revelations                                                                   #11

3.08                                    Lover’s Walk                                                                #11

3.09                                    The Wish                                                                      #12

3.10                                    Amends                                                                        #12

3.11                                    Gingerbread                                                                  #12

3.12                                    Helpless                                                                        #13

3.13                                    The Zeppo                                                                    #13

3.14                                    Bad Girls                                                                      #13

3.15                                    Consequences                                                               #13

3.16                                    Doppelgängland                                                            #14

3.17                                    Enemies                                                                        #14

3.18                                    Earshot                                                                         #14

3.19                                    Choices                                                                        #14

3.20                                    The Prom                                                                     #15

3.21                                    Graduation Day (part 1)                                                 #15

3.22                                    Graduation Day (part 2)                                                 #15

4.01                                    The Freshman                                                               #16

4.02                                    Living Conditions                                                           #16

4.03                                    The Harsh Light of Day                                                 #16

4.04                                    Fear, Itself                                                                    #16

4.05                                    Beer Bad                                                                      #17

4.06                                    Wild at Heart                                                                #17

4.07                                    The Initiative                                                                 #17

4.08                                    Pangs                                                                           #17

4.09                                    Something Blue                                                             #18

4.10                                    Hush                                                                            #18

4.11                                    Doomed                                                                        #18

4.12                                    A New Man                                                                 #19

4.13                                    The I in Team                                                               #19

4.14                                    Goodbye, Iowa                                                              #19

4.15                                    This Year’s Girl                                                            #19

4.16                                    Who Are You?                                                             #20

4.17                                    Superstar                                                                      #20

4.18                                    Where the Wild Things Are                                           #20

4.19                                    New Moon Rising                                                         #20

4.20                                    The Yoko Factor                                                           #21

4.21                                    Primeval                                                                       #21

4.22                                    Restless                                                                        #21

5.01                                    Buffy vs. Dracula                                                          #22

5.02                                    Real Me                                                                       #22

5.03                                    The Replacement                                                          #22

5.04                                    Out of My Mind                                                            #22

5.05                                    No Place Like Home                                                     #23

5.06                                    Family                                                                          #23

5.07                                    Fool for Love                                                                #23

5.08                                    Shadow                                                                        #23

5.09                                    Listening to Fear                                                           #24

5.10                                    Into the Woods                                                              #24

5.11                                    Triangle                                                                        #24

5.12                                    Checkpoint                                                                    #25

5.13                                    Blood Ties                                                                    #25

5.14                                    Crush                                                                           #25

5.15                                    I Was Made to Love You                                              #25

5.16                                    The Body                                                                      #26

5.17                                    Forever                                                                         #26

5.18                                    Intervention                                                                   #26

5.19                                    Tough Love                                                                  #26

5.20                                    Spiral                                                                            #27

5.21                                    The Weight of the World                                               #27

5.22                                    The Gift                                                                        #27

6.01                                    Bargaining (part 1)                                                        #28

6.02                                    Bargaining (part 2)                                                        #28

6.03                                    After Life                                                                     #28

6.04                                    Flooded                                                                         #28

6.05                                    Life Serial                                                                     #29

6.06                                    All the Way                                                                  #29

6.07                                    Once More, With Feeling                                               #29

6.08                                    Tabula Rasa                                                                  #29

6.09                                    Smashed                                                                       #30

6.10                                    Wrecked                                                                       #30

6.11                                    Gone                                                                            #30

6.12                                    Doublemeat Palace                                                       #31

6.13                                    Dead Things                                                                 #31

6.14                                    Older and Far Away                                                      #31

6.15                                    As You Were                                                               #31

6.16                                    Hell’s Bells                                                                   #32

6.17                                    Normal Again                                                               #32

6.18                                    Entropy                                                                         #32

6.19                                    Seeing Red                                                                   #32

6.20                                    Villains                                                                         #33

6.21                                    Two to Go                                                                    #33

6.22                                    Grave                                                                           #33

7.01                                    Lessons                                                                        #34

7.02                                    Beneath You                                                                 #34

7.03                                    Same Time, Same Place                                                #34

7.04                                    Help                                                                             #34

7.05                                    Selfless                                                                         #35

7.06                                    Him                                                                              #35

7.07                                    Conversations With Dead People                                   #35

7.08                                    Sleeper                                                                         #35

7.09                                    Never Leave Me                                                           #36

7.10                                    Bring On the Night                                                        #36

7.11                                    Showtime                                                                      #36

7.12                                    Potential                                                                       #37

7.13                                    The Killer In Me                                                           #37

7.14                                    First Date                                                                     #37

7.15                                    Get It Done                                                                   #37

7.16                                    Storyteller                                                                     #38

7.17                                    Lies My Parents Told Me                                              #38

7.18                                    Dirty Girls                                                                     #38

7.19                                    Empty Spaces                                                               #38

7.20                                    Touched                                                                       #39

7.21                                    End of Days                                                                  #39

7.22                                    Chosen                                                                         #39






Grading standards for essays and papers          Dr. Lindgren


An “A” essay is excellent in nearly all respects.  An “A” essay:

-is well-argued and well-organized, with a clear thesis.

-is well-developed, with content that is original, specific, interesting, appropriate, and convincing.

-has logical transitions that contribute to a fluent style of writing.

-has varied and sophisticated sentence structure.

-has few, if any, mechanical, grammatical, spelling, or diction errors (less than 3).

-demonstrates command of a mature, unpretentious diction.

-uses the sources extremely well.


A “B” essay shares most characteristics of an “A” essay, but:

-may have some minor lapses in organization and development.

-may contain some sentence structures that are awkward or ineffective.

-may have minor mechanical, grammatical, or diction problems.

-may be less distinguished in its use of language.

-may not use the sources as well.


A “C” essay is competent, but compared to a “B” essay it:

-may have a weaker thesis and less effective development.

-may contain some lapses in organization.

-may have poor or awkward transitions.

-may have less varied sentence structures that tend toward monotony.

-may have more mechanical, grammatical, and diction problems.

-is likely to be less distinguished in its handling of the topic.


A “D” essay is likely to:

-present a thesis too vague or too obvious to be developed.

-display major organization problems.

-lack adequate support for its thesis.

-have confusing or non-existent transitions.

-have ungrammatical or poorly constructed sentences.

-demonstrate problems with spelling, punctuation, diction, or syntax that impede understanding.

-not cite sources.

-be sloppy.


An “F” essay is seriously flawed.  It is likely to:

-have no clear thesis or central topic.

-display random organization.

-lack adequate support or specific development.

-include irrelevant details.

-fail to fulfill the assignment or be unfairly brief.

-contain major or repeated errors in diction, syntax, grammar, punctuation, or spelling.



Adapted from Carol Engelhardt, Ph.D.


[1] Joss Whedon AOL Chat, 10 November 2002

[2] As quoted in Justine Larbalestier, “ Buffy’s Mary Sue is Jonathan: Buffy  Acknowledges the Fans,” in Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002), 227.